4 Key Workplace Trends for 2016
New Trends Bring New Urgency for Reference Checking
Looking ahead to 2016, there are both challenges – and opportunities – based on powerful trends that will help define the workplace environment for the coming years.
1. The highly desired “Work-Life Balance” has a darker side.
In recent years, an increased emphasis on work-life balance has resulted in more companies providing added employee flexibility in allowing them to better manage their time. While this is touted as a highly desirable feature by employees, it has also created new expectations in the form of being increasingly available and responsive, e.g. in the form of after-hours emails, late-night texts that bosses expect an immediate response to, or FaceTime calls with customers in different time zones that can start well before 8am or after 5pm. The end result: an actual decrease in work-life balance and a more overwhelmed workforce.
2. Generation Z college graduates will be entering the workforce for the first time, with Millennials increasingly filling management positions vacated by retiring boomers.
Generation Z’ers - born from 1995 onwards - will begin entering the workplace early in 2016. Also during 2016, more than 3 million boomers are set to retire, making way for millennials (born between 1980-1995) who will take many of their vacated management positions. These millennials will fill the leadership gap by increasingly flattening corporate hierarchies, utilizing empowerment and team-oriented tactics and urging their employers to make a more positive impact on society.
3. More professionals will seek (or accept) short or part-time stints instead of full-time jobs.
Professionals are increasingly choosing freelance jobs in order to gain more control over their lives, have flexibility and be their own boss. By 2020, approximately 40% of Americans will be part of what has come to be called the “gig” economy. The rise of this trend is attributed to many factors, including increased access to technology, the impact of the recession, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that has imposed new costs on employers. The “gig economy” has allowed employers to hire on-demand, lower cost talent and has given rise to entrepreneurial entities such as Uber.
4. The resurgence of boomerang employees (and subsequent challenge for other job seekers).
A boomerang employee is one that leaves a company only to ultimately return after some later date. Many companies that once had a policy against hiring back boomerang employees in the past have since changed their policies to allow the return of such employees. Benefits of rehiring former employees include their familiarity with corporate culture and the fact that they don’t require as much training to get up to speed. This lowers the risk factor from an employer’s perspective, making boomerang employees significant competitors to other active job seekers.
Given these trends, what are the “takeaways” for new candidates to the job market? One is that your job references are more important than ever before. In particular:
1. First time entrants to the job market (Gen Z) will need to begin cultivating business references asap in anticipation of future employment applications.
2. Job seekers anticipating “gig economy” positions with higher turnover/shorter job stints will need to ensure that their references are solid at each new place of employment.
3. Millennials seeking to bring new skills to management positions need to ensure that their resumes reflect specific accomplishments consistent with empowerment, team-oriented strategies, etc. that are validated by their references.
4. Boomerang employees will want to ensure that no “bridges are burned” with key previous employers, parting from these employers on good terms that allow for the possibility of future re-employment with the company.
5. All job seekers are recommended to check their key references by utilizing a firm like Allison & Taylor (www.allisontaylor.com) a third-party reference checking organization that identifies the commentary that previous employers will offer about you to potential new employers. Approximately half of all reference checks conducted by this organization reveal employer negativity about the job seeker, something that will likely ensure that no future job offers will be forthcoming. Be sure to have key supervisory and Human Resources contacts checked at your former places of employment to ensure that your references will be assets, not liabilities, to your next employment position.